Drastic threat amid cricket’s cost-cutting

Cricket Australia's drastic cost-cutting measures amid the coronavirus epidemic have raised concerns about whether the future of the sport is under threat.

CA could be considered one of the luckiest organisations in the Australian sporting landscape. The recent summer of cricket escaped relatively unscathed by the COVID-19 crisis, with only two one-day internationals against New Zealand and four Sheffield Shield matches postponed or cancelled.

As the NRL and AFL desperately worked to avoid financial catastrophe, CA announced in April they had also been forced to take action, stripping down to just their "skeleton staff" until the end of the financial year. Approximately 200 staff members were stood down.

In March, chief executive Kevin Roberts reportedly told CA staff lay-offs may not be required if next summer is unaffected, according to the Sydney Morning Herald .

Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts.
Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts.

Roberts initially attempted to cut state associations' funding by 45 per cent, but eventually accepted a 25 per cent cut to grants, which has resulted in a further 100 job losses across Australia.

More than 55 people have lost their position at Cricket Victoria, approximately 36 per cent of their staff. A spokesman conceded there would be a "significant impact on community cricket".

Queensland Cricket, the South Australian Cricket Association and Cricket Tasmania also let go 32, 23 and 20 staff members respectively.

Former Australian cricketer Stuart Clark warned these cuts would have long-lasting ramifications on junior and grassroots programs.

"By cutting further, it won't be felt in the next year or two, but it might be felt in 10 years' time," Clark toldABC News.

"All they're really concerned about is having the next Australian player, whereas there's a whole heap of levels of cricket that need to be filled with people that actually have skills that are learnt at a junior age.

"Cricket needs to adapt to manage impacts that have already occurred, while preparing for changes necessary in a time of uncertainty."

Former New South Wales pace bowler Stuart Clark.
Former New South Wales pace bowler Stuart Clark.

Australian paceman Mitchell Starc praised his home state New South Wales for pushing back in response to Cricket Australia's cost-cutting drive. Cricket NSW is continuing to ask questions of head office about the effect these cuts would have on community cricket.

Cricket NSW chief executive Lee Germon and chairman John Knox have told staff they believe a decision on funding should be delayed until there is a better understanding of what this summer looks like.

"In terms of NSW, they've been pretty strong in holding their position … they've been heavy to push back on the cuts," Starc told reporters on Tuesday.

"I've only read a little bit about how NSW are going about it and full credit to the NSW board in trying to; I guess at this stage hanging onto all of their staff and their grassroots (programs) at the moment.

"From the little updates I've read from NSW, it's a big part of their plan to be part of growing the game in the state.

"That's obviously where we have all come from, as international and elite cricketers … it's a huge part of the game."

The Australian Cricketers' Association had questioned CA's financial projections, with ACA chairman Greg Dyer arguing there was something "horribly wrong with the current model".

"In terms of all the cuts, the pay and the rest of it - we all go through the ACA, so they've been fantastic," Starc said.

Australian paceman Mitchell Starc.
Australian paceman Mitchell Starc.

Last month, Roberts reportedly asked grocery store chain Woolworths whether they would be able to temporarily take on Cricket Australia staff that had been stood down, a move Clark described as "embarrassing".

"I can't believe he did that," Clark said.

"I'm still in shock."

CA is bullish India will arrive for a Test tour worth $300 million in broadcast revenue, but has other financial concerns amid a stalled economy where global sports sponsorship is projected to fall by approximately $26 billion. The likely postponement of the Twenty20 World Cup and prospect of empty stands will also affect CA's revenue.

Starc would have no issue with teammates bypassing the start of Australia's domestic summer to play in the Indian Premier League, should the T20 money-spinner claim that spot on the calendar.

"They're pre-existing contracts," the left-armer said, having opted out of this year's IPL.

"If they're cleared to go (by CA) then I don't see a problem in it … it'll be an interesting decision."

- With AAP


Originally published as Drastic threat amid cricket's cost-cutting

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